The World Wide Web has resulted in a super-connected world. It has brought people closer no matter where they may be in the world and resulted in instant communication. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have many users hooked on them with the idea of displaying the best side of their selves while striving to garner maximum likes, positive comments and retweets. However, mental health experts warn that continual use of these websites may provoke anxiety identified as social media anxiety disorder.
Prior studies have indicated how teenagers are more prone to exhibiting symptoms of the disorder. While social media sites may, in themselves, seem innocuous while promoting associations with people from remote corners, the tendency to compare one’s position with what others display, results in many adolescents getting disturbed or dissatisfied with what they have. Commonly referred to as the “Compare and Despair Factor,” feelings of self-consciousness or constant struggle to achieve perfection or get what others have may cause vulnerable teenagers to suffer from unsettling anxiety problems. These anxiety issues, if left unchecked for prolonged periods, may manifest themselves as a more pervasive form of behavior problem similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Social media anxiety and teens
The fear of missing out (FOMO) on the fun that others may be having or events that they may be participating in or even something that may have happened in their life which one does not know about but others do, could trigger unwarranted anxiety in social media users. This, in turn, can hamper feelings of self-respect. Spending a lot of time on social media sites, feelings of uneasiness on not being able to access social media sites, fixation on what other people do, or worrying about others having more followers, is indicative of dependence on social media. Social networking sites can be more addictive than smoking itself.
Social skills of teenaged children are largely impacted owing to extensive use of social media. Interactions with peers are more about face-to-face conversations, observing body language or adopting necessary social skills. Owing to lack of interaction on a real-time basis and more of it on a social platform, teenagers miss the joy of meeting new people or learning the critical social skills much required in later part of their lives.
Cyberbullying is another risk that stems from the extensive use of social networking sites. In some cases, young people are subjected to shaming, discrimination and unwarranted backlash, compelling suicidal ideation in them.
Timely treatment imperative to deal with anxiety issues
If your ward is a teenager who is hooked on social networking sites, it is imperative to understand that excessive social media use may lead to depression and other psychological disorders. Most people tend to disregard the potential dangers of social media dependence, given that their effects on emotional wellbeing are not palpable as physiological disorders. Before social media crept in, the need to be part of a social group and the fear of being left out had existed. But extensive technology use and reliance on it has amplified the problem.
If you believe that your teenaged son or daughter is showing behavioral problems similar to anxiety, it is quite possible that your ward needs treatment for social media addiction. It is not unusual to see or witness teens addicted to social media, though the pervasiveness of treatment for the same is quite limited. Mental illnesses are treatable. Sovereign Health’s Rancho San Diego residential facility offers 24/7 care for adolescents aged 12-17 years. Our staff help patients reach their full potential in a peaceful and rural setting. For more information, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our counselors.